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Papers, listed by lead author: M


Maddox, J., Randi, J. and Stewart, W.W. (1988) ‘High-dilution experiments a delusion’ (with response from Benveniste, J.), Nature (news and views), vol. 334, pp. 287-291.

The now celebrated report by Dr J. Benveniste and colleagues elsewhere is found, by a visiting Nature team, to be an insubstantial basis for the claims made for them.

“THE remarkable claims made in Nature (333,816; 1988) by Dr Jacques Benveniste and his associates are based chiefly on an extensive series of experiments which are statistically ill-controlled, from which no substantial effort has been made to exclude systematic error, including observer bias, and whose interpretation has been clouded by the exclusion of measurements in conflict with the claim that anti-IgE at “high dilution” will degranulate basophils. The phenomenon described is not reproducible in the ordinary meaning of that word...

Links: [abstract - pub med]:[full text - bad science - pdf]
Responses: This is a refutation of Dayenas, E., et al (Benveniste’s ‘memory of water’ paper).

Mao, J.J., Palmer, C.S., Healy, K.E., Desai, K. and Amsterdam, J. (2011) 'Complementary and alternative medicine use among cancer survivors: a population-based study', Journal of Cancer Survival, vol. 1, pp. 8-17. [permalink]

'Despite the high prevalence of CAM use, research suggests that patients often do not discuss CAM use with their conventional health care provider... While several types of CAM therapies may provide benefits to cancer patients, many have not been rigorously studied for safety or efficacy. Some CAM treatments may interact with conventional cancer therapies or contain substances (e.g. heavy metals) that are harmful for prolonged use... internet and other media contain unsubstantiated claims about untested therapies that patients often turn to for health information...'

Johnson et al looked at a similar data-set in 2018 and their findings were bleak - those who chose to treat cancer with complementary and alternative medicine alone were, on average 2.5 times more likely to die compared with those treating their cancer with real medicine, and in breast cancer sufferers that number increased to 5.7 times. It is a tragedy that people with such terrible conditions are being lied to and exploited this way. For once words fail me!

Links: [springerlink (£)]:[full text, PMC OA]:[full text, pdf PMC OA]
Responses: [Medscape]

Mathie, R. (2003) ‘The research evidence base for homeopathy: a fresh assessment of the literature’, Homeopathy, vol. 92, pp. 84-91.

A self-admittedly uncritical look at the total available evidence from the published research literature (93 papers and trials) of homeopathy since 1975. The author concedes “this is neither a meta-analysis nor a formal systematic review...” and includes trials which are “... randomised and/or double-blinded”, not necessarily both (which would be a minimum requirement for a more credible review).

In the discussion section it is pointed out that “Publication bias towards the reporting of ‘positive’ homeopathic treatment effects has been a well founded concern... There is thus very likely to be overall exaggeration of reported positive treatment effects in the homeopathic research literature cited in the present review.” and “... This review deliberately does not categorise published trials in homeopathy by their intrinsic scientific quality...”, something again, which marks it out from other, more trustworthy studies employing robust exclusion criteria.

In a nutshell, this review tells us nothing about whether or not homeopathy works. We have no way of telling which, if any, of the trials included were of good scientific quality and could be trusted and which were inadequate and should have been dismissed. The conclusions may be of some minor general interest, and this paper is certainly a propaganda flag-waver for proponents of homeopathy who either haven't read it properly (and hope their target audience won't read it either) or simply don't undertand how evidence works, but it adds nothing to the real debate.

There is one comment from Dr Mathie though I'm sure we can all agree on, “Many homeopaths are cheerfully sustained by their own successful clinical experience: ‘We know it works, so why do research to prove it?’”. In this one sentence the author has laid bare the bluff and posturing of homeopaths who see research as a propaganda tool used, not to test homeopathy but to prove it; and that ain't how science works!

Links: [abstract, sciencedirect]:[abstract, pubmed]:[abstract, researchgate]:[full text, pdf, semanticscholar]

Mathie, R.T., Hansen. L., MF Elliott, M.F. and J Hoare, J. (2007) ‘Outcomes from homeopathic prescribing in veterinary practice: a prospective,research-targeted, pilot study’, Homeopathy, vol. 96, pp. 27-34.

“We organised a pilot data collection study, in which 8 Faculty of Homeopathy veterinarians collected practice-based clinical and outcomes data over a 6-month period... “
Just another outcome study designed to fool people into thinking that homeopathy works. No great surprise at the claim of “
strongly positive outcomes” when homeopaths give homeopathic remedies to clients who have gone for homeopathic treatment in exchange for hard cash. This is what we at
RationalVetMed call “vested interest” and “bias”. Nothing to see here, move along...

Links: [abstract, science direct]:[abstract, pubmed]:[full text, homeopathicvet]

Mathie, R.T., Baitson, E.S,, Hansen. L., Elliott, M.F. and Hoare, J. (2010) ‘Homeopathic prescribing for chronic conditions in feline and canine veterinary practice’, Homeopathy, vol. 99, no. 4, pp. 243-248.

“Twenty-one homeopathic veterinary surgeons recorded data from consecutive feline and canine patients over a 12-month period...  CONCLUSIONS: A programme of controlled research in veterinary homeopathy for these feline and canine conditions is clearly indicated.”

So, a massive amount of research has been carried out to tell us that a massive amount of research needs to be carried out to test whether treating sick animals with water or sugar tablets is a worthwhile undertaking... RationalVetMed would beg to differ I’m afraid.

This spectacularly lame conclusion didn’t stop the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons getting very excited about the whole thing though (see link below):  “Association claims proof of homeopathic effectiveness... Owners can now be confident that homeopathic medicines can be effective for common canine and feline conditions in many animals” screamed the headlines.

Then, after a period of sober reflection (and possibly, one would like to hope, an embarrassed “mea culpa...”): “the BAHVS would like to retract the following statements..: ‘Association claims proof of homeopathic effectiveness’ and ‘Owners can now be confident that homeopathic medicines can be effective for common canine and feline conditions in many animals according to the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons’” screamed the retraction!

Links: [abstract, pubmed]:[abstract, researchgate]:[full text,, pdf]:[full text,]
Responses: [BAHVS statement on Vetsonline]

Mathie, R.T., Frye, J. and Fisher, P. (2012) ‘Homeopathic Oscillococcinum® for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like illness’, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 12 Art. No.: CD001957. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001957.pub5

“There is insufficient good evidence to enable robust conclusions to be made about Oscillococcinum® in the prevention or treatment of influenza and influenza-like illness. Our findings do not rule out the possibility that Oscillococcinum® could have a clinically useful treatment effect but, given the low quality of the eligible studies, the evidence is not compelling.”

Robert Mathie and Peter Fisher are both leading lights in the world of homeopathy, hence the irrelevant and silly comment “Our findings do not rule out the possibility that Oscillococcinum® could have a clinically useful treatment effect...”. Well, their findings also do not rule out the possibility that the phases of the moon or divine intervention, or whether Dr Who was on telly that week could have a clinically useful effect either, but you don’t see that recorded anywhere. Only a homeopath could have managed to squeeze weasel words like that into a Cochrane review. The one consolation is if those authors can’t find any good evidence that Oscillococcinum has any effect on flu then we can rest assured there is no such effect.

Links: [abstract, Wiley]:[full text, html, Wiley]:[full text, pdf, Wiley]

Mathie, R.T. and Clausen, J. (2014) ‘Veterinary homeopathy: systematic review of medical conditions studied by randomised placebo-controlled trials’, Veterinary Record, vol. 175, no. 15, pp 373-381. [permalink]

Conclusion: Mixed findings from the only two placebo controlled RCTs that had suitably reliable evidence precluded generalisable conclusions about the efficacy of any particular homeopathic medicine or the impact of individualised homeopathic intervention on any given medical condition in animals.

Out of 18 papers considered by the authors only two were considered reliable enough to include in this systematic review. The first (Hektoen, 2004) found homeopathy had no effect in treating mastitis in cows, while the authors of the second (Camerlink, 2010) thought homeopathy might have had a beneficial effect in diarrhoea in piglets. This second paper was published in a homeopathic trade-journal which should raise serious questions about impartiality, and had multiple flaws on a clinical level, most notably that the authors laughably believed it was possible to draw conclusions regarding the precise causative organism involved solely from the colour of the diarrhoea! Whether Professor Mathie, a first-class researcher, but neither a veterinary surgeon or a doctor of medicine, would have been aware of these shortcomings, we can only guess - you can bet your bottom dollar he wouldn’t have been told about them by any homeopath involved in the study!

Links: [Veterinary Record]:[Abstract - PubMed]:[Full text Marco Colla - pdf]

Mathie, R.T. and Clausen, J. (2015) ‘Veterinary homeopathy: Systematic review of medical conditions studied by randomised trials controlled by other than placebo’, BioMedCentral Veterinary Research, vol. 11, no. 236. [permalink]

Results: No trial had sufficiently low RoB (risk of bias) to be judged as reliable evidence: 16 of the 20 RCTs had high RoB; the remaining four had uncertain RoB in several domains of assessment. For three trials with uncertain RoB and without overt vested interest, it was inconclusive whether homeopathy combined with conventional intervention was more or was less effective than conventional intervention alone for modulation of immune response in calves, or in the prophylaxis of cattle tick or of diarrhoea in piglets.

Conclusion: Due to the poor reliability of their data, OTP-controlled trials do not currently provide useful insight into the effectiveness of homeopathy in animals."

The year after examining the evidence for homeopathy in animals in trials using placebo controlled studies (Mathie et al, 2014) the same two authors widened the net and published another analysis of existing trials which had investigated veterinary homeopathy. This time they looked at those trials which had not used a placebo as a control. While this looser approach might have been expected to have produced a more favourable outcome for homeopathy, the final conclusion was no better—none of the trials were considered free enough of bias to be useful so again, it was impossible to draw a meaningful conclusion about homeopathy in animals. One has to ask how much more of this there has to be before those who have a vested interest in positive results will bow to the inevitable.

Links: [abstract, pubmed]:[Full text, pubmed central (pdf)]:[Full text, pubmed central (html)]

Mathie, R.T., Ramparsad, N., Legg, L.A., Clausen, J., Moss, S., Davidson, J.R., Messow, C.M. and McConnachie, A. (2017) 'Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of non-individualised homeopathic treatment: systematic review and meta-analysis', Systematic Reviews, vol. 6, no. 63, (doi: 10.1186/s13643-017-0445-3). [permalink]

Conclusions: There was a small, statistically significant, effect of nonindividualised homeopathic treatment. However, the finding was not robust to sensitivity analysis based solely on the three trials that comprised reliable evidence: the effect size estimate collectively for those three trials was not statistically significant. There was significant evidence of publication bias in favour of homeopathy. Our meta-analysis of the current reliable evidence base therefore fails to reject the null hypothesis that the outcome of treatment using a non-individualised homeopathic medicine is not distinguishable from that using placebo.

This trial is absolutely par for the course in homeopathic research whereby, if you include unreliable evidence then things can look quite good for homeopathy solely by virtue of the ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’ school of statistical analysis. But as soon as you analyse only the reliable evidence than the effect vanishes and homeopathy - yet again - is found to be no better than placebo.

Links: [abstract, pubmed]:[full text, PMC]:[full text, pdf, PMC]:[full text, BMC]:[full text, pdf, BMC]

Responses: [Edzard Ernst (blog)]

Mayaux, M.J., Guihard-Moscato, M.L., Schwartz, D., Benveniste, J., Coquin, Y., Crapanne, J.B., Poiterin, B., Rodary, M., Chevrel, J.P. and Mollet, M. (1988) ‘Controlled clinical trial of homoeopathy in postoperative ileus’, Lancet, vol. 331, no. 8584, pp. 528 - 529.

Links: [abstract, pubmed]:[abstract, lancet]

This is a real old homeopathic stalwart, still trotted out occasionally in defence of this 200 year old (proof is just around the corner) medical modality. Unfortunately not even the abstract seems to be available online (making it all the more useful a recruit to the homeopathic cause). Another, better known and more widely available, paper though did have a good look at it and found it wanting. Despite the positive results claimed by the original team of homeopaths, attempts to replicate and subtantiate them failed miserably.

Poor old Dr. Benveniste - this is becoming a bit of a habit.

Here’s what Kleijnen et al (1991) had to say about it:

A trial of very high quality was that of the Groupe de Recherches et d'Essais Cliniques en Homeopathie, initiated by the French Ministry for Social Affairs and performed by a group consisting of regular and homoeopathic researchers (Mayaux 1988). After the earlier publication of several trials in which homoeopathy was shown to decrease the time to recovery of bowel movements after abdominal surgery, this hypothesis was retested in a rigorous trial comparing four groups of 150 patients (two groups were treated with opium C15 and raphanus C5, one group with indistinguishable placebo, and one group was not treated). No differences at all were found. Will more of such trials for other indications show the same results and refute the existing evidence?

Good question - our money is on “yes”!

McCarney, R., Fisher, P., Spink, F., Flint, G. and van Haselen, R. (2002) ‘Can homeopaths detect homeopathic medicines by dowsing? A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial’, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, vol. 95, pp. 189-191.

Links: [abstract - JRSM]:[full text - JRSM]:[full text - JRSM, pdf]

“... These results, wholly negative, add to doubts whether dowsing in this context can yield objective information.”

Can the ineffective practice of dowsing be used to assist treatment with the ineffective practice of homeopathy - ye gods, have we slipped into some sort of parallel universe while noone was looking!

Milazzo, S., Russell, N. and Ernst, E. (2006) ‘Efficacy of homeopathic therapy in cancer treatment’ European Journal of Cancer, vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 282–289.

Links: [abstract EJC]:[abstract pubmed]:[fulltext pdf thewrightdoctor]

"Our analysis of published literature on homeopathy found insufficient evidence to support clinical efficacy of homeopathic therapy in cancer care"

The next few papers are some of the strangest you'll ever read on homeopathy or anything else really. Lionel Milgrom has been producing these speculative, thought-experiment type works for years now.  His technique seems to be simply to take real life effects that are weird or counter-intuitive such as quantum entanglement, gyroscopic force, lasers and so forth and use them as metaphors for how he thinks homeopathy might work. For example quantum entanglement means that sub atomic particles can apparently be 'joined' even though they are some distance apart so Milgrom speculates that the homeopathic patient can be similarly 'joined' with the practitioner and the remedy. They are complete fantasy, pure speculation, involving no experimentation at any stage and they would be a source of simple amusement if it wasn't for the fact that it gives ammunition to homeopaths who claim that homeopathy can/will be explained by "Quantum Theory". Obviously this argument is only ever put across by particularly silly homeopaths who chose to forget Milgrom is talking about a metaphor only (surely he can’t actually believe that a homeopathic practitioner is a sub-atomic particle?) Still, it doesn't stop people making the bogus "(Quantum Physics = weird) plus (Homeopathy = weird), therefore (Quantum Physics = Homeopathy)" calculation.

Links: [JREF thread concerning Milgrom]:[Quackometer - why Lionel Milgrom is just plain wrong]:[apgaylard - the hydra of homeomythology]

Milgrom, L.R. (2002) ‘Patient-practitioner-remedy (PPR) entanglement. Part 1: a qualitative, non-local metaphor for homeopathy based on quantum theory’, Homeopathy, vol. 91, no. 4, pp.239-248.

“A metaphor for homeopathy is developed in which the potentised medicine, the patient, and the practitioner are seen as forming a non-local therapeutically ‘entangled’ triad, qualitatively described in terms of the transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics.”

Links: [abstract - science direct]:[full text BVVS]
Responses: [JREF forum (post 22)]

Milgrom, L.R. (2003) ‘Patient–practitioner–remedy (PPR) entanglement. Part 2: extending the metaphor for homeopathy using molecular quantum theory’, Homeopathy, vol. 92, no. 1, pp.35-43 .

“A quantum metaphor developed previously for homeopathy, involving triadic patient–practitioner–remedy (PPR) entanglement, is extended by importing concepts used in chemistry to describe the electronic structures of molecules. In particular, the electronic energy states of triangular tri-atomic molecules are used metaphorically to predict that (a) the more a homeopathic medicine is potentised, the deeper the level of cure is likely to be, and (b) the practitioner can be included as a beneficiary of the therapeutic process. The model also predicts that remedy attenuation and degree of PRR [sic] interaction could (in the quantum theoretical sense) represent a pair of complementary conjugate variables.”

Links: [abstract - science direct]

Milgrom, L.R. (2003) ‘Patient–practitioner–remedy (PPR) entanglement. Part 3. Refining the quantum metaphor for homeopathy’, Homeopathy, vol. 92, no. 3, pp. 152-160.

“The notion of patient-practitioner-remedy (PPR) entanglement, previously proposed for homeopathy, is refined by adapting concepts derived from Greenberger, Horne, and Zeilinger's treatment of three-particle entanglement (GHZ states), and a generalised version of quantum theory, called weak quantum theory (WQT). These suggest that for maximum PPR entanglement during the therapeutic encounter, the practitioner's awareness needs to be directed inward as well as outward toward the patient, and that health and disease are mirror images of each other, similar to and represented by, the relationship of complex numbers to their complex conjugates.”

Links: [abstract - pub med]:[abstract - science direct]:[full text - biopathica]

Milgrom, L.R. (2004) ‘Patient–practitioner–remedy (PPR) entanglement Part 4. Towards classification and unification of the different entanglement models for homeopathy’, Homeopathy, vol. 93, no. 1, pp. 4-42.

“The possibility of classifying and unifying some of the recent entanglement models for homeopathy is discussed. Unification involves combining the previous GHZ/WQT-based entanglement model, itself a fusion of Greenberger-Horne-Zeilinger (GHZ) three-particle entanglement and a generalised version of quantum theory, called Weak Quantum Theory (WQT), with Walach's semiotic model involving double entanglement. The new combined model invokes a 'geometry' of patient-practitioner-remedy (PPR) entanglement embedded in a therapeutic state space.”

Links: [abstract - pub med]:[abstract - science direct]

Milgrom, L.R. (2004) ‘Patient–practitioner–remedy (PPR) entanglement. Part 5. Can homeopathic remedy reactions be outcomes of PPR entanglement?’, Homeopathy, vol. 93, no. 2,  pp. 94-98.

“The possibility that well-documented types of reaction to the prescribed homeopathic medicine may be outcomes of PPR entanglement is discussed within the context of a previously described model for homeopathy that incorporates GHZ three-particle entanglement and Weak Quantum Theory.”

Links: [abstract - pub med]

Milgrom, L.R. (2004) ‘Patient-practitioner-remedy (PPR) entanglement. Part 6. Miasms revisited: non-linear quantum theory as a model for the homeopathic process’, Homeopathy, vol. 93, no. 3,  pp. 54-158.

“The possibility that non-linear quantum theory could be used to model PPR entanglement is discussed in relation to the treatment of miasms. In this model, miasms are imagined as disease entities behaving like solitary waves, or 'solitons' which, when trapped in a therapeutic state space, requiring equally soliton-like (miasmatic or high potency) remedies to effectively 'annihilate' them.”

Links: [abstract - pub med]

Milgrom, L.R. (2004) ,Patient-Practitioner-Remedy (PPR) Entanglement, Part 7: a gyroscopic metaphor for the vital force and its use to illustrate some of the empirical laws of homeopathy’, Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd, vol.11, no. 4, pp. 212-223.

“This preliminary theoretical analysis suggests that perhaps these less well-known empirical observations should be reinvestigated and, if confirmed, could begin ultimately to provide a much-needed alternative to the doubleblind placebo-controlled trial as a means of investigating and testing the efficacy of homeopathy.”

Links: [abstract - pub med]

Milgrom, L.R. (2005) ‘Patient-Practitioner-Remedy (PPR) entanglement, Part 8: 'Laser-like' action of the homeopathic therapeutic encounter as predicted by a gyroscopic metaphor for the vital force’, Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd,  vol. 12, no. 4, pp 206-213.

“The preliminary theoretical investigation reported here develops the metaphor further by suggesting that the effect of this practitioner mirror-like activity on a patient's Vital Force during the therapeutic encounter, might be likened to the sequence of operations by which lasers function. The analogy seems compelling, as an essential feature of laser operation is the arrangement of parallel mirrors placed at both ends of the laser's resonant cavity.”

Links: [abstract - pub med]

Milgrom, L.R. (2005) ‘Are randomized controlled trials (RCTs) redundant for testing the efficacy of homeopathy? A critique of RCT methodology based on entanglement theory’ Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 11, no. 5, pp. 831-838.

“Assuming the PPR entangled state is a necessary condition for therapeutic interaction, alternatives to RCTs are urgently required that can take into account possible entangled specific and nonspecific effects during trials of homeopathy. That RCTs sometimes deliver positive results for the use of homeopathic remedies may be caused by residual entanglement arising from homeopathic remedy manufacture.”

LINKS: [abstract - pub med]:[full text - (pdf)]

Milgrom, L.R. (2006) ‘"Torque-like" action of remedies and diseases on the vital force and their consequences for homeopathic treatment’, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 12, no. 9, pp. 915-929.

“with only observation of symptoms and changes in them to indicate, indirectly, the state of a patient's Vf, the safest treatment strategy might be for the practitioner to proceed via gradual removal of the symptoms. This is congruent with Hahnemann's later development and use of the LM potencies, as described in his final 6th edition of The organon.”

Links: [abstract pub med]

Milgrom, L.R. (2006) ‘Towards a new model of the homeopathic process based on quantum field theory’, Forsch Komplement Med, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 174-183.

“... an underlying similarity in discourse could exist between homeopathy and quantum theory which could be useful for modelling the homeopathic process. This preliminary investigation also suggested that key elements of previous quantum models of the homeopathic process, may become unified within this new QFT-type approach.”

Links: [abstract - pub med]:[abstract, Forsch Komplementmed]
Responses: [Shpalman]

Milgrom, L.R. (2007) ‘Conspicuous by its absence: the Memory of Water, macro-entanglement, and the possibility of homeopathy’, Homeopathy, vol. 96, no. 3, pp. 209-219.

Links: [abstract - science direct]:[abstract - pubmed]:[full text with comments - bad science journal club]

Milgrom, L.R. (2007) ‘Toward a unified theory of homeopathy and conventional medicine’, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 13, no. 7, pp. 759-769.

“... Following the logic of these models, conventional medicine could be seen as a special case of a broader therapeutic paradigm also containing homeopathy”

Links: [abstract pub med]

Milgrom, L.R. (2007) ‘Journeys in the Country of the Blind: Entanglement Theory and the Effects of Blinding on Trials of Homeopathy and Homeopathic Provings’, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 4, no.1, pp. 7-16.

Answers on a post-card if you can work out what this means:

“The idea of quantum entanglement is borrowed from physics and developed into an algebraic argument... blinding causing information loss resulting from a kind of quantum superposition between the remedy and placebo... History records that at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 the then Vice-Admiral Nelson famously chose to ignore a direct order from his Commander-in-Chief to withdraw... there are situations in real homeopathic practice where a practitioner might intentionally give a placebo as a second prescription, for example, when Pr has assessed that a previous remedy’s action is not exhausted, yet Px is still experiencing symptoms... ‘the collapse of the wave function’... Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle... the homeopathic remedy may be thought to entail the entangled intention of those involved in its preparation without overarching patient-practitioner-remedy entanglement to ‘lock’ the remedy into ‘therapeutic coherence’…”

No? Here’s a clue:

“the use of DBRCTs for testing homeopathy would appear to be a flawed strategy as they seem to destroy the very effects they were purportedly designed to investigate”

That’s right, it’s just another excuse as to why homeopathy always falls so completely flat when it’s tested properly. If only he’d said that at the start.

Links: [abstract, pubmed]:[full text, pdf, pubmed central]:[abstract, EBCAM]:[fulltext, pdf, EBCAM]
Responses: [JREF forum]:[JREF forum]:[shpalman]:[andrewT blog]

Milgrom, L.R. (2008) ‘A New Geometrical Description of Entanglement and the Curative Homeopathic Process’ Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 329–339

Links: [full text, pdf]:[full text, html,]  

Mondal, J., Panigrahi, A.K. and Khuda-Bukhsh, A.R. (2014) 'Anticancer potential of Conium maculatum extract against cancer cells in vitro: Drug-DNA interaction and its ability to induce apoptosis through ROS generation', Pharmacognosy Magazine, vol. 10 (Suppl 3):S524-S533, (doi:10.4103/0973-1296.139792). [permalink]

This study was quoted by uber veterinary homeopath Peter Gregory in a letter to the veterinary press in 2017 as he attempted to defend the homeopathic treatment of cancer. He’s a homeopath so it isn’t too much of a shock to discover he is unaware of the definition of robust evidence, but surely it would be reasonable to expect him to understand the definition of homeopthy, his stock-in-trade. Apparently not though, since this paper is not actually a study of homeopathy, instead the authors use an undiltuted mother tincture made by grinding up (homeopaths call it triturating) Conium maculatum (commonly known as hemlock and well known for being poisonous) in water or alcohol (you will note that alcohol is also toxic) as the starting material for their experiment. This is a test of herbal, not homeopathic, medicine.

They diluted their mother tincture to either 150, 300 or 450 ug/ml amounts and tested these solutions, not in clinical cancer cases, but by adding them to petri dishes containing the various cell lines they were studying. It is impossible to know the final concentrations of the hemlock's nasty alkaloids that were present in the diluted solutions used because they started with a mother tincture and not with a pure preparation, but it seems highly likely that the alkaloid's concentrations were well within the conventional pharmacological range.

To be fair, they do seem to have used proper controls (their preliminary experiments also showed it killed cells in normal cell lines) but, given hemlock's reputation as a source of toxic alkaloids, it is hardly surprising they found their solutions did bad things to the cells lines and the cells' DNA,. How this can be generalised to practical applications or be used as evidence of support of alternative medicine generally, or homeopathy specifically is a mystery.

The paper doesn't come across as 'alternative' at all. It’s just a very typical ‘researchers testing some plant extract to see if it kills cells in a dish’ type paper.

tldr: Hemlock extract, known to contain toxic alkaloids, can kill cancer cells in a petri dish. Nothing surprising there, move along.

Links: [abstract, PMC]:[full text, pmc]

Murphy, D.R., Schneider, M.J., Seaman, D.R., Perle, S.M. and Nelson, C.F. (2008) ‘How can chiropractic become a respected mainstream profession? The example of Podiatry’, Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, vol. 16, no. 10.

Links: [abstract, biomed central]:[full text, html biomed central]:[full text, pdf, biomed central]

Murphy, K. (2018) 'Leptospirosis in dogs and cats: new challenges from an old bacteria', In Practice, vol. 40, no. 6, pp. 218-229, ( [permalink]

This article confirms that leptospirosis is a disease with worldwide distribution which can affect most mammals. Dogs and humans have a particular susceptibility and it can spread from animals to humans. Although a wide range of signs are seen, leptospirosis can cause life-threatening disease in dogs and people. It is reported to be a re-emerging disease worldwide with the number of cases in humans and dogs increasing and dogs being infected by strains not previously considered significant.

Regarding the vaccination of dogs the author comments, 'Vaccination is the most logical way to try and control infection and reduce the prevalence of clinical disease and shedding. Bivalent vaccines containing the serogroups L icterohaemorrhagiae and L canicola have been in widespread use for many years and infection with L canicola is now uncommon...', and points out 'The European consensus statement recommends the use of quadrivalent vaccines...'

As for the hysterical reports from minority anti-vaccination groups, 'There have been concerns raised about reactions to quadrivalent vaccines and about reactions to leptospirosis vaccination... Current literature does not show vaccines with leptospiral antigen to be associated with more significant reactions than other vaccines...'

So, quadrivalent leptospira vaccines such as L4 are safe and they can prevent potentially life-threatening diseases in dogs. The conclusion is a no-brainer - get your dogs vaccinated if you live in an at-risk area. Think carefully about why anti-vaccination groups want people to believe otherwise. The reasons may include vested interest (many sell so-called homeopathic vaccines), simple ego ('I'm cleverer than the scientists!'), a general science-denialist worldview (nature is best) and good old conspiracy theory (vets/drug companies know the harm vaccines cause but go ahead anyway just to get your money). One thing you can rest assured they don't include is decent science.

Links: [full text, pdf (£)]:[full text, html (£)]